It sounds too good and it’s true. Come join us on this amazing trip combining the conquering of the three highest mountains in Bulgaria and their tops amidst the outstanding nature in the three Bulgarian National Parks – “Rila”, “Pirin” and “Central Balkan”, and relaxation in the abundant thermal mineral waters in small mountain towns and villages along the way.
Day 1. Arrival in Sofia
Arrival in Sofia, transfer to the hotel for check in. Dinner in a traditional Bulgarian restaurant with our guide to introduce participants, discuss and prepare for the tour.
Day 2. Sofia – Apriltsi – Pleven Hut
Today we have a transfer (about 200km.) to the foothills of the Balkan Mountains giving the name of the Balkan Peninsula and the “Central Balkan National Park”. On our way we stop for a cool visit of “Saeva Dupka” cave – more than 3 million years of age. We have a lunch in one of the best Bulgarian mehana (restaurant) in Oreshaka village after which we visit the emblematic Troyan Monastery ‘The Assumption of Mary’ with paintings from 17th century by master Zahari Zograf. We start our short hike to Pleven hut in the early afternoon visiting Vodni Dupki (meaning ‘Water Holes’)Caves on our way. It is known haunt for 17 species of bats and the beginning of Vasiklovitsa River. The path is very pleasant, climbing steadily though not too steeply through old beech woods to finally emerge on the open spur by Pleven Hut (1384 m.a.s.l). The location is superb and we spend the rest of the day enjoying the stunning views towards the inaccessible cliff s of the Severen Dzhendem (meaning ‘Northern Hell’) Nature Reserve. It is these 400m high vertical cliffs that give the reserve its name. Overnight.
Walking time: 2-3 hours. Total ascent / descent: 460 m / 60 m
Day 3. Pleven Hut –Mount Botev (3rd highest) – Rai Hut
Today we climb the 3rd highest summit of Bulgaria – Mount Botev (2376 m.a.s.l.). The hike begins along the majestic rocky wreath of ‘Northen Hell’ reserve with the rounded, grassy dome of Botev rising high in the clouds. Once on the top we start descending on the southern flank of the mountain with outstanding views towards the ‘Southern Hell’ Reserve and Rai (meaning ‘Heaven’) Hut. The so-called Tarzan’s path winds its way through the steep, rocky terrain. The surrounds of Rai Hut are truly wonderful, located directly beneath the Heavenly Rocks – a bristling wall of granite crags, down which thunders the highest waterfall in Bulgaria – Raysko Praskalo (The Heavenly Sprinkler – 124m). Overnight.
Walking time: 6-7 hours. Total ascent / descent: 1000 m / 950 m
Day 4. Rai Hut – Kalofer – Bansko
In the morning we head down walking through the ancient beech woods of the ‘Hell’ Reserve. On our descent many wonderful views open to the fertile Tracian Valley and the deeply cut valey of Bazovitsa. Before exiting the borders of the National Park, there is an opportunity to make a circular loop along the Byala River Eco Trail with specially constructed wooden ladders and bridges which help us explore the inaccessible part of the valley. We go down to the Kalofer – the home town of the revolutionary Hristo Botev, who gives the mane of the highest peak. Transfer to Bansko in the foothills of the Pirin Mountains and opportunity to wander around the cobbled streets in the old part of the town. We go for spa in some of the numerous thermal springs in the area. Overnight.
Walking time: 2-3 hrs. (+1-2 hrs – Byala River Eco Path). Total ascent / descent: 100 m / 1050 m
Day 5. Bansko – Mount Vihren (2nd highest) – Banya
With an early start and short transfer to Vihren hut, today we ascend the top of Pirin mountains – Vihren (2914m.a.s.l) on the territory of Pirin National Park. We make a loop hike to the top going through “Golyam Kazan” cirque below the impressive north-eastern 400-meter vertical wall of the summit. Enroute we may encounter the emblematic Edelweiss flower as well as wild goats. We can also find several beautiful endemic alpine flowers such as the delicate yellow ‘Pirin Poppy’. From the cirque, a long exciting scramble takes us up white marble rocks to the summit, which on a clear day offers a wonderful panorama over the entire Pirin range. Short transfer takes us back to town of Banya where we enjoy the thermal mineral waters in our hotel. Overnight.
Walking time: 6-7 hours Total ascent / descent: 1000 m
Day 6. Banya – Rila Monastery – Sapareva Banya
Today we travel towards our final goal – the highest peak of Bulgarial and also on the Balkan Peninsula – Musala (meaning ‘near to God’).On the way we stop by the most famous landmark of Bulgaria – The Rila Monastery established in the 10th century and now included in UNESCO world heritage list. Sightseeing and leisure hike to the hermitage of St. Ivan Rilski. In the late afternoon we arrive in Sapareva Banya, famous for the hottest thermal water spring in Bulgaria (103oC) where we have the opportunity to bathe, relax and prepare for the next day hike amidst the clean fresh air. Overnight.
Walking time: 1 hour. Total ascent/descent: 100 m.
Day 7. Sapareva Banya – Mount Musala – Pchelin village
With an early short transfer in the morning we take the gondola lift from Borovets to Yastrebets station at 2369 m.a.s.l. Our walk begins going through “Rila National Park” and the largest nature reserve in the country protecting unique alpine and sub-alpine eco systems with glacial lakes and striking alpine and post-glacial terrain. We make a loop hike to the summit of Musala (2925 m.a.s.l.) along the ridge enjoying marvelous views. In the late afternoon we take the gondola back to Borovets and a short transfer takes us to the final destination – our hotel in the small village of Pchelin known for its healing thermal mineral waters. Overnight.
Walking time: 6-7 hours. Total ascent / descent: 560m
Day 8. Pchelin – Sofia – Departure
Transfer from Pchelin spa resort to Sofia for departure.